Obama’s upcoming Alaska visit: Climate & the Arctic

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U.S. President Barack Obama made his first-ever visit to Alaska during a refueling stop at Elmendorf Air Force Base on his way to Asia on Thursday, November 12, 2009. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
U.S. President Barack Obama made his first-ever visit to Alaska during a refueling stop at Elmendorf Air Force Base on his way to Asia on Thursday, November 12, 2009. (Bill Roth / Alaska Dispatch News)
WASHINGTON — The Aug. 31 conference that will bring President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and a slew of foreign ministers to Anchorage will be an Arctic-climate hybrid event, according to the State Department.

The so-called “GLACIER” conference isn’t an official event of the Arctic Council, and it’s “not directly related” to the ongoing United Nations climate change negotiations, which the White House hopes will result in an international climate change agreement in Paris in December, the State Department said.

Its aim is somewhere in the middle.

“This conference will, however, help to focus attention on the challenges and opportunities that the Arctic Council intends to address and highlight how a region vulnerable to climate change is experiencing and responding to these impacts, helping to drive political will for ambitious action at” the Paris meetings later this year, the State Department said in a statement.

Topics still to be determined

The meeting’s agenda is still under development by the State Department, the White House and other agencies “with Arctic responsibilities,” the department said.

It won’t just be Obama, Kerry and high-level foreign ministers — the conference is said to include scientists, policymakers and Alaska and Arctic residents.

Other as-yet-unnamed U.S. Cabinet secretaries will be in attendance, the State Department said. The U.S. invited foreign ministers from Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

Climate focus

The conference “will discuss individual and collective action to address climate change in the Arctic; raise the visibility of climate impacts in the Arctic as a harbinger for the world, and the Arctic’s unique role in global climate change; identify ways that Arctic innovators are responding to these critical challenges; and share opportunities to prepare and respond to other issues in the changing Arctic,” the State Department said. Some sessions and panels will be open to the public.

Other topics at hand will include emergency response, unregulated Arctic fisheries and community health.

Related stories from around the North:

Asia:  Asia ahead on preparing for polar climate change, says U.S. Arctic rep, Eye on the Arctic

Canada: The Arctic Council – What was accomplished and where we go from here, Eye on the Arctic

China: China’s silk road plans could challenge Northern Sea Route, Blog by Mia Bennett

Denmark:  The return of the Arctic Five, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Finland: US seeks Finnish support for Arctic goals, Yle News

Norway:  China eyes Arctic Norway infrastructure projects, Barents Observer

Russia:  The Arctic Council’s Immunity to Crimean Flu, Blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Sweden:   Arctic Council – From looking out to looking in, Blog by Mia Bennett, Cryopolitics

United States:  Arctic Alaska meeting planned for Kerry, Lavrov and other officials, Alaska Dispatch News

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